Central America: drought
One year after severe droughts devastated the lives of 1.5 million people in Central America, lack of rain is once again bringing hunger to the region - in particular, Honduras, Nicaragua, El Salvador and Guatemala.
WFP staff across the region are reporting that poor families living in drought-affected areas have no resources left to cushion the blow of the latest disaster.
The lack of rain has already destroyed crops from the first planting season (May-August) and, in some cases, is discouraging families from planting for the second harvest (September - December).
No rain has fallen in southern Honduras since June 24, and nearly 100,000 people - including women and children - are at risk of going hungry.
80-100% of the corn crop has been destroyed, while approximately 22,000 hectares of maize, sorghum & bean crops have been lost due to lack of rain.
This represents a total loss of over 13,000 metric tons of subsistence crops.
WFP Honduras is currently delivering emergency food rations to 16,400 families, mainly in southern Honduras, including the provinces of Choluteca, Valle, Francisco Morazán and El Paraíso.
This month, some 650 metric tons of food are being distributed as part of the agency's US$357,000 emergency operation in Honduras.
150 tonnes are destined for children under the age of five and lactating women, while 500 tonnes will go to adults engaged in food for work activities such as building water reserves.
WFP Honduras already provides school feeding in the region for more than 70,000 school kids.
Assessment missions are taking place in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture to further estimate the damages caused by this year's drought.
WFP continues to monitor parts of El Salvador hit by rain shortfalls, in particular the northeastern region which is facing a prolonged drought.
Agricultural losses are likely to be substantial. In some provinces, farmers may lose 50 percent of their harvest.
To make matters worse,, in the province of Cabañas, crop-eating larva has affected the corn and bean crop.
In Nicaragua, El Nino has brought drought and food shortages to the northwestern provinces of Chinandega and Leon. About 5,400 hectares of crops have been lost in Chinandega and over 1,700 hectares in Leon.
In some communities, people are managing to harvest small quantities of grains (beans & maize) from the first planting season (May-August).
However, insufficient rain in recent weeks means there is little optimism for the second planting season (September-December). This may delay or hinder the sowing of cereal crops.
WFP is also delivering 470 tonnes of emergency food to small coffee farmers, peasants and communities in the northern provinces of Jinotega, Matagalpa, Nueva Segovia and Madriz.
Many of these peasants lost their coffee-picking jobs because of the coffee crisis and have now moved away from the coffee plantations to the main highways and cities to draw the government's attention.
El Nino in Guatemala: in six eastern provinces of Guatemala, 40 percent less rain has fallen than on average.
WFP Guatemala is concerned about the effect this will have on the upcoming harvest of corn and beans.
While the 2002 drought is not as bad as last year's, some communities have already experienced up to 80 percent crop losses.
The agency may need to intervene with emergency food if the lack of rains continues.
In March 2002, WFP Guatemala organised an emergency food distribution to save more than 5,000 children at risk because of the 2001 drought and high unemployment. and
The same distribution also sought to improve the nutritional status of the childrens' families through specialized food aid, medical care and training.
As part of this operation, WFP continues to feed 79,000 drought-affected people through 70 therapeutic feeding centers, 19 malnutrition wards in hospitals and 60 community distribution centres.
This is a summary of what was said by WFP spokesperson Christiane Berthiaume - to whom quoted text may be attributed - at the press briefing, on 3 September 2002, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva
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